Curious to explore where American education stands 35 years after the “A Nation at Risk” report that warned of dire consequences for the workforce if schools didn’t shape up? The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute has an event on April 12 in Washington, D.C., that will explore that question.
The Reagan Institute Summit on Education will feature seven former secretaries of education, including Bill Bennett, who served under President Ronald Reagan; Lamar Alexander, who served under President George H.W. Bush; Richard Riley, who served under President Bill Clinton; Margaret Spellings, and Rod Paige, who served under President George W. Bush; Arne Duncan and John King, who served under President Barack Obama.
Condoleezza Rice, who served as President George W. Bush’s secretary of state, and Janet Napolitano, who served as President Barack Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary, will also be speaking.
State chiefs will be there, too, including John White of Louisiana and Carey Wright of Mississippi. In addition, Ras Baraka, the mayor of Newark, N.J., will attend.
The event will also include student perspective, including Télyse Masaoay, a student at Vanderbilt University, who has participated in some of the Reagan Institute’s programs.
Anthony Pennay, the chief learning officer Ronald Reagan Foundation, said he’s hoping the event will attract a mix of students, educators, and policy makers.
The idea is to “bring together a coalition of folks who might necessarily sit down together or work together,” he said. And getting a good mix of people is in keeping with the spirit of “A Nation at Risk.”
“One of my favorite passages from a Nation at Risk is about the learning society,” Pennay said. That’s why he’s aiming for an audience of “students, teachers, school administrators, folks from beyond the classroom.”
Photo: Ronald Reagan at a news conference during his time as California’s governor in 1971. Reagan was president in 1983 when “A Nation at Risk” was published. (AP Photo)